How Far Will You Go?

pawprint1August 9, 2007

I've read a lot of postings about frugal and thrifty ideas and I wonder if there's anything you won't do?

I look silly, but I use a candle instead of turning on my closet light, but I do run my AC at 73 degrees....

Today I heard on the news of this new thing called "freegans". They dig through the garbage of restaurants and grocery stores for their meals.

I don't think I'll try it.

I also don't plan on re-using my toilet paper either!

Just curious what percent of "frugal-ness" we all are.

I'm about 50%.

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Hi pawprint ...

... you didn't read my research project last summer on reusing toilet paper, I assume?

At the end of our family picnic, I saw a whole bunch of toilet paper all crmpled up in a fairly large plastic bag, sitting regally atop a garbage can.

They usually try to have an innovative game or two each year, and when you've been operational for 109 years, that gets to need some resourcefulness.

Anywway, they'd chosen up teams and had the other members wrap one in toilet paper, like a mummy. Did a pretty good job, too ... for I thought the winner was facing t'other way around.

Anyway ...

... I brought the plastic bag of crumpled toilet paper home, flattened it and rolled it.

Used it for something over 5 mos., I think that it was.

I live alone and spend substantial amounts of time out.

I don't have air conditioning: we have more breezes in the country than in town, I open the back of the oil furnace and operate the fan to push basement air upstairs late on hot afternoons, and have a dehumidifier in the basement, to combat moisture when hot air gets pulled into a cool basement, then tends to shed moisture, to forestall mould and rust.

I heard on the radio that our fussing about hybrid cars, etc. isn't going to have enough net useful effect ... when China is building a new coal-fired generating station per week. Even if that number is a bit exaggerated, the fact remains that their increased use of electricity and motor cars, etc.will have a huge impact.

I have a standard transmission car, and when I see a traffic light go yellow, 3/4 of a block ahead, push in the clutch and turn the ignition key part-way off (to stop the motor, but not lock the steering). Then I watch the SUVs go rushing by, get up close to the light, and the brake lights go on.

Quite a bit of the time, I manage to arrive about the time the light goes green, then turn on the key, let out the clutch, the engine starts, and I continue on my way. Sometimes I coast down hills, too - unless I have someone following me, who'll get frustrated over the slowing speed.

In winter I have multiple layers of clothing when on the computer, and put a washcloth over the hand using the mouse, fastening it with a safety pin - loose enough that I can just slide the hand out when I choose.

I have about a dozen first-crop tomato plants, as high as my wist, just about to produce, but just transplanted something over 50, last week, so I'll soon be running around looking for markets for the tomatoes!

Unless the frost turns the late-season green to black before it produces the red.

Anybody want some tomatoes to freeze? Have surplus green beans, cucumbers and zucchini, now.

Good wishes for being a responsible citizen, treading on the world with as tender a footprint as possible.

We owe it to our grandkids to pass on a decent (clean? functional?) world to them.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 6:05AM
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I think your frugalness is your own personal comfort zone. To some in my family I am extreme because I try to use up anything until there isn't much left to toss, I am extreme in the use of my leftovers as I can't abide waste. I do not think I'd join the "freegans" group but I have been known to pack home a doggie bag. To me frugalness is a personal thing and what might bother you might not bother me. I was happy to visit a garage sale recently where the lady gave out zucchini to anyone who came by. Sure I've been called cheap but there are worse things to be called. Budster

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 11:06PM
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Yeah, i have been called cheap too. But luckily going green has become so popular that im now pretty "hip." I dont think it is all the "cheapness" in me because i am a HUGE recycler. I will bring home the plastic cups from McD's so i can recycle it. But would i eat from the garbage? NO! This reminds me of the Seinfeld episode were George got caught eatting the donut from the garbage. It was just laying on the top, touching only a clean sheet of paper. Would you take it out and eat it?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 9:00AM
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I haven't started recycling yet but I'm just a single guy and don't use much.

I have "gone green" with electricity usage. And I agree with Ninos, when my friends come over, I say I went green and they understand. Before it was called that or even popular, people asked if I just couldn't afford my electric bill. Which isn't farther from the truth. I'm not rich by any means, but like to save a buck where I can. And if I don't feel too inconvenienced, then its not bad.

With out latest extreme heat wave, I temporarily have tinfoil my east/west windows. It like living in a cave, but its made a huge difference. Looks like trash, but temporary.

I also will light a candle instead of turning on a light if I won't be leaving the light on for long. Like picking my clothes out of the closet or brushing my teeth. And yes, all my bulbs are florescent.

I have stopped using my clothes dryer and hang everything on the line, except my bath towels. I wash in all cold water and have a front loading machine.

I stopped using my dishwasher and do them by hand unless I have guests or a large load, which is rare.

I don't cook, so I have unplugged my stove/oven and microwave. Too many clocks to power!

All my computer/TV/DVD/VCR's are on a power strip which is off unless I'm watching it.

None of this bothers me, but people still think it's strange.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 10:47AM
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People often say candles are cheaper, but I don't believe they are. I've never actually worked out the cost, so I'm going to try it and see.

At current prices I pay about 11p a kwh, so 11p will run a single 100w lightbulb for ten hours, which increases to around fourty hours if I change it to an energy saver.

The cheapest candles I have found come in a packet of 6 and burn for 10 hours each, making a total of 60 hours. The packet costs 99p.

For the candle, 99/60 = 1.7p an hour
For the the normal light bulb, 11/10 = 1.1p an hour
For the energy saver, 11/40 = 0.3p an hour

I think it's cheaper in most every case to use an electric bulb of some type, although energy savers are the best. Also, when you consider the difference in light output, the electric bulb is a greater saving than the figures suggest as it emits a lot of light.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 12:16PM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

My absolute limiting factor is that I will not do anything immoral or even slightly dishonest just to save money. I will not cheat on my taxes or take deductions that may be in the gray area. Beyond that, I would have to say that everything else would depend on my situation. Dumpster diving and becoming a freegan are probably at the absolute bottom of my list of things that I would do, we would have to absolutely destitute. Beyond that, there are many things that I would at least try. I think that sometimes saving money is an adventure and you have to try new things to find out what works for you in your situation and what does not.

I have economized enough to where I can make a whole tank of gas in my F150 super crew to last a whole month. DH has begun taking the park n ride into town to save more money on the gas for the car. Not always convenient but the savings cannot be ignored. I can tolerate those couple of hours in the afternoon that are hot without firing up the swamp cooler. I can learn how to prepare things, repair things, etc.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 6:37PM
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I use the candle when I'm getting a shirt out of my closet or brushing my teeth in the bathroom at night. I do this because I'm only in the closet for about 30 seconds, so a candle is cheaper. It's also cheaper to light a candle for a 3 minute tooth brushing, versus the bathroom light which houses 6 bulbs, so a candle still is the cheapest route.

I'm still amazed no one wants to be a freegan! I agree with the above poster that I would need to be destitude. But on a serious note, the freegans are eating well and for free! The only bad thing would be the flies...

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 8:29PM
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I'm not using the candles anymore. I found little battery operated lights instead. They were advertised on TV and work really weel and run on 3 AAA batterys (not included).

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 10:27AM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

Other concerns with freegans would be health concerns. If a restaurant is throwing food away, they must have a reason. Any food thrown away is profit lost. Most of these reasons are dictated by general health codes. If something is thrown away, you have no idea of knowing if it was stored improperly or if it had been cross contaminated with say raw poultry, etc. The probability of getting may be low but the cost of a visit to the hospital, even with insurance is not cheap. Multiply that by how many family members also got sick by the same means and the costs could expand a lot more beyond what it would cost to go to the grocery store and purchase something relatively inexpensive.

I feed six people and my insurance copay on a hospital admission is $300 per person. If all six of us were admitted for eating bad food beacuse it was free, that would cost us $1800. Not to mention lost wages, recovery time, having to eat hospital food, etc. I don't even spend $300 a month on our food most months.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 8:11PM
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I wouldn't dumpster dive for food either unless I had no other choice.

I'm a frugal person because I was raised that way. A lot of people don't understand it. I find it makes me more creative and more willing to look into into other ideas. Like mentioned above, I won't compromise my morals or honesty to save money or make money for that matter.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 8:32PM
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I have the little taplights/battery lights here too for when the power goes out. I do use them in the bedroom for when I have guests so they have a light close to them at night. I use one in a closet but wouldn't use them in the bathroom for instance on a regular basis. I simply use a nightlight. I have a 4" wide fluorescent nightlight that was free after rebate, gives great light and uses 4 watts or so of power. Considering the battery lights run about 10-20 hours on a set of batteries, and I can run the nightlight 250 hours on one 14 KwH of electricity, there's no way I'd use the battery ones. 10-15 sets of batteries cost far more than 14¢!

I will say this: I don't see any real difference between the incandescent nightlights and the fluorescent one except possibly color temperature. They're both about 4 watt and both give comparable light. I guess I just think the wider fluorescent probably lights the bathroom a bit better so I use that. Works great. I use it often and always use it when I go in there at night.

I've been frugal all my life. Was raised that way. It's paid off for me in many ways. But I've learned to not go overboard either. Being single and crippled up more now, I do use disposeables more. However things like the Swiffer dusters last a long, long time, can be shaken out and I'm told they can be washed too. I'm going to try it.

I'll do things like when I'm using foil to warm up food, I'll set the whole piece of foil onto a paper plate holder and not have to use a plate (paper or regular), which saves washing and saves paper, so I save money either way. If I'm just snacking on some sausage or something, rather than use silverware (stainless or plastic) I'll use a toothpick or two. Does double duty. Utensil and pick my teeth after if needed!

I pay 4 months worth of phone bills at a time so I don't have to pay 50¢ in postage and check costs each time. $1.50/yr savings. Combined with the savings of paying other bills online, I'm saving over $25/year on bill paying alone. And saving time. And saving the cost of driving to a mailbox. The little bit of interest I'd earn on the money is far offset by the savings. I am working on getting another way to pay it online. Currently, if I paid it online it'd cost about $5/month. Nope, not doing that!

I totally agree that ethics and morals come in, but I was also raised that way too. I've seen people who go to restaurants with families and buy one soft drink and get the rest "water" to drink. They get the water glass and send the kids up to get "free refills" on the pop and pour it into the water glasses to "save" money. I tell them that's not "saving" money, that's stealing money! To drink water instead of expensive beverage is fine. I do that often. But I'm not going to steal it. Now, I will say that I know others who will split a meal and ask for a second plate to divide it. To me that's fine, but they do pay for two beverages, which is fair. Some places do make a charge for the second plate. Most do not.

I have learned to limit the amount of toilet paper I use, but I'm not doing the "one sheet" routine! But I suspect some must use about 4 feet of paper the way I used to go through it when I had roommates! Plus the way the toilet would back up! Oh, and the best economizing thing I did was get rid of roommates! LOL Yes, some can be fine, but I had bad ones.

I also will splurge on certain things that I consider "luxuries" though some think they're necessities. Others have "necessities" that I just plain don't want. To each their own. You make the quality of life what is comfortable for you.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 4:37AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

The candle thing seems dangerous to me if you have to use a free hand to get a shirt. And, the soot dirties walls so that you have to repaint sooner. Soot free candles are expensive.
Still, I occasionally burn one for ambiance. I do wash swiffer dusters over and over and find them to work well for years.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 12:17PM
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Just wanted to give my 2 cents about the candle.....yes I have them ...sometimes will burn them to give atmosphere but mostly they are my stand by for when we have power outages. I'd never burn a candle to do a clothes hunt, my skill and luck I'd burn the clothes. Budster

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 3:19PM
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I use the Scott TP since I read plumbers say it's better for your septic sysytem, but my DH changed back to Charmin after 2 weeks, we usually use different bathrooms, he uses the guest one...........LinnZ

    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 5:08PM
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I do common sense things like use fluorescent bulbs, turn up the thermo in the summer if I am going to be gone all day. I was very frugal as a young person when we lived pay day to pay day, but not so much anymore. I'm 70 years old and I'm tired of scrimping so I have shifted mode, from save to spend. I tell everyone I haven't seen a hearse pulling a U Haul yet. LOL I like soft tissue and good paper towels, so I spoil myself a little now. I have used the library for reading materials since grade school although I would have loved to have kept every book I read. Now I am building a small library of hardback books that I love and any like new hardbacks I find at garage sales. I smell them to make sure they don't smell of mold or cigarettes. LOL I always fill out surveys for stores and restaurants to get their coupons, though I don't use grocery coupons anymore, I don't buy many groceries anymore, being single.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 10:30PM
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I've replaced my four most used bulbs with CFL's, and I got those for BOGO at the grocery store! Worked out to 1.50 apiece. I'd love to get more, but I'll just have to wait until they go on sale.

I keep my a/c on 80 during the day and 77 at night. I use ceiling fans and a box fan in my bedroom to supplement.

I laughed when I heard about gathering up all the toilet paper. I would do that too! I actually stopped using paper towels, or will after these last two rolls are gone. I've been trying to make sure I cut lights off, even though the ones left on are mostly flourescents.

I don't bake much, and what I do have to roast, I have a large toaster oven for. I probably only use my oven about 4 times a year. I use my microwave a lot.

I NEVER pay retail for anything unless it's an absolute necessity, and I can't find it on sale. I drive a 15 year old car that looks HORRIBLE, but runs great. It uses too much gas, but I don't drive anywhere but to work and back most of the time. Everything else I need is usually within walking or biking distance from my house. Walking and biking, as well as doing my own yardwork, I don't need a gym membership (although I do have a treadmill...given to me...for lousy weather days).

I stockpile food when it's on sale, usually on BOGO with coupons added, and after I do this for awhile, I can actually got for months without buying anything but basics like milk, bread, and eggs.

I'm starting to do urban homesteading. I've already over the last ten years planted all the fruit trees, so now I'm working on the vegetable gardens, and water reclaiming system for watering the garden.

I could go on, but I'm tired of thinking about it.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2007 at 8:28PM
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This might be an unpopular reply ... and I apologize before hand .I've read so many posts - every one here seems sincere .(I'm new here .) *GULP* So here goes ....
I'm frugal ... but I know there's a fine line between saving pennies and being just plain foolish.

Example -- Lighting a candle - instead of turning on a light for a one minute look in a closet - to me - is crazy. I guarantee you'll spend that 1/100th of a penny that you think you saved ~ doing something else.
I can't imagine anybody that is frugal ... doing somethng that extreme. That almost sounds like a sickness to me. Sorry I had to say this ... but it's MHO ..

    Bookmark   September 24, 2007 at 9:01PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I agree, toomuchglass.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2007 at 11:01PM
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We stopped buying new cars years ago. My most recent was a splurge- $2800! My previous truck was $500, and I drove it for 3 years. I go to a U-Pull-It junkyard, and do a lot of the work on our cars, since I have all the tools anyway. We keep our t'stat at 80 in the summer, and haven't run our heat in years (FL). We've gone to all CFL's, and I always run around turning off lights and TV's. I've started adding automatic switches to rooms such as closets and the laundry room, since the family always leaves those lights on. The only money we owe is the mortgage, and it's small. Credit cards get paid off every month. I usually take leftovers to work, and mostly drink water, instead of pop.

Where I get hung up is things like- Is it cheaper and or greener to wash a dish, or use a paper plate? Washing it uses hot water and soap, which also is more of a load on the septic system, but paper plates cost money, use pulp, and require energy to make, ship, and get home from the store. How does one decide which way to go in a case like that?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2007 at 10:34AM
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I don't have a car, I use public transport or walk now. While public transport often costs more per journey than the fuel for a car making the same journey would, cars come with so many other expenses. You have to buy the car first, then there is maintenance and repairs, road tax and insurance, and parking fees (we have very large parking fees here). These all increase the average cost per journey. A good example would be when I go shopping on a Saturday, I can catch a bus in to the city and spend as long as I want for the same cost as parking a car there for just one hour.

Although living in the city does cost more, the excellent public transport helps me save some money. Living in a city offers other savings too, for example a greater range of shops in which to find better value products, and unlike some remote place we have natural gas available which means inexpensive cooking, hot water and heating. The down side is that buying a house or renting is higher, and so are taxes, but I like living in the city and do what I can to find things about it which save money. Being able to live without a car is a huge saving for me.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2007 at 3:42PM
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A combination of pride and fear of germs would prevent me from "freegans". However, I did get a coupon for a free chicken sandwich in my P O Box and looked through the trash in the P O to collect coupons others had discarded. I found around 20, but gave some to friends and coworkers when the people at the fast food restaurant started looking at me with suspicion.

A P O Box is costly and certainly not frugal, but we have problems with our rural delivery and do get more discounts in the P O Box.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2007 at 2:56PM
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